Not Everyone is a Leader. Or Are They?

As I thought about this topic, I did what I usually do when I need a kick-start for writing a post: I Googled it. My Google search term was “not everyone is a leader.” As you see from the screenshot below, that search brought up 111 million (yes, million) results. That told me two things. 1) The topic had been well covered and I was probably wasting my time; and 2) I found myself disagreeing with my own topic after I reviewed many of the articles I read.

google image search results leadershipHere’s my perspective. At Smith & Howard, we have about 100 people. We have quite a few official leaders: leaders of departments, leaders of committees, and of course my role as leader of the firm. Do we expect “everyone” to be able to assume one of these leadership roles at some point in the future? Certainly not. Not only is not everyone capable of that, not everyone wants to take on those roles. However, looking at all the projects, initiatives, committees and day-to-day tasks that are accomplished here in serving our clients and keeping the firm running efficiently and profitably, I think I could name something that every single person here has been responsible for leading in the past year. Just a few examples:

  • Kim Collier and Cynthia Sims in our administrative group led our United Way Shoebox Project. Under their leadership, the firm collected, decorated and filled 186 shoeboxes of personal supplies for homeless women and children. Without their leadership, this project would not have happened.

  • Rob Kaercher in our wealth management group led an effort to develop a key relationship with a financial institution and the wealth team that will benefit the firm for many years to come.

  • Employees too numerous to mention, at all staff levels, have voluntarily assumed leadership roles in regular industry group meetings, taking on the challenge of creating agendas and guiding discussions to keep meetings on track (not an easy task with accountants and marketing people in the same room)

  • Takia Young, one of our newest administrative professionals, took on leadership of ordering and providing all meals for the firm – including meals provided to audit and tax teams during busy season. Probably one of the most difficult jobs in the firm, Takia lead it with grace and patience.

  • Michael Campbell led our manufacturing group’s effort to reach out to new connections through networking opportunities across Atlanta, which has resulted in a significant new partnership with a key manufacturing group.

The stories could go on and on, but I think the point is clear. Though not everyone is (or wants to be) a corporate or department leader, we are all called upon to lead at some point in our professional lives. Maybe the biggest question (and the next Google search) is: How do we learn to lead well?